Austin Tri-Cyclist Blog

Thursday, January 17, 2013

ATC Racing Women Dubbed "Most Romantic" at Ultra Provocatorio

by Allison Atkinson

One word describes this year's Team Wooly Mammoth's Ultra Provocatorio Gran Fondo: EPIC! The romantic chip seal roads of Fredericksburg were the ultimate backdrop for the drama that unfolded that day.

This was my first team fondo as well as ATC Women's Racing's first event of the 2013 season. Our goals were to stay on course, avoid flats, and have fun. We definitely exceeded them this year. Here are a few highlights from the 98.1-mile course:

60% Style 40% Talent
Yes, there was a magical presence at 9:20 a.m. when we rolled up to the start line in our new kits. A few spectators staggered back in admiration at the sight of the new, high-viz ATC orange jerseys. A Team Yacht Club racer hit the nail on the head when he remarked, "The orange to yellow fade out is reminiscent of Miami Vice." Indeed. Sock choice also played an important role in the overall performance of the team; long black socks solidified the roadie look. Frankly, I was a worried that if we did not wear true roadie socks that Missy and Marla might feel compelled to go for a run afterward. Rest assured, all we did was ride, ride, and ride.

Mile 1: Missy & Marla are ON POINT
Kudos! These ladies co-navigated the entire course without a mistake. It was impressive to watch them glance down at GPS directions and cue sheets covered in plastic wrap, shout directions, and not crash. Lots of the roads were hard-to-pronounce German names that kept us entertained. Left on Weimaraner Rd??? After getting a little strung out on the initial climbs we settled into a steady pace line where we took turns in the wind at 1 to 2 minute intervals.

Mile 15: Lori almost chokes on a gluten-free bar
Eating while on the bike is an art, an art that Lori has mastered. To say she is a pro would be an understatement. Even though she didn't feel like eating she knew from past rides that if she did not force-feed bars and gels down she would certainly run out of juice. On a side note, we apologize for any GU’s, bars, and chomps we may have "lost" in the attempt to open ridiculously wrapped packaging. A prominent racer from Team Ghisallo recommends: "Next time you should pre-open your snacks." Brilliant.

Mile 35: Emu, sheep & various livestock
Our strategy for endurance was to treat the first 50 miles like a warm-up. Beyond random remarks about livestock there was not much conversation. Our mantra: "Focus!"

Mile 40ish: Allison faces her demons...15 miles of gravel, washboard & such
Gravel, mud, sand, and low-water crossings were some of the many countrified challenges of the day. Things got real once we hit the first patch of washboard surface. I hung on to the rest of my team until the first low-water crossing then we became strung out. We slid all over the place, and I had to walk my bike a few times. As a result, I had one shoe with the cleat cemented to the pedal and one shoe that would not clip in. After a few attempts to rinse my cleats I concluded, as I rolled up to the end of the rough section where I met with the rest of my teammates, that I would not be able to clip in for the rest of the race.

Mile 75: Kat rolls up in a Prius
I'd never been so happy to see someone in a car! Our very own superstar baby-mama Kat pulled up just in time to give water and nutrition to those of us who ran low. Having her there meant not having to stop, which would have cost us precious time. We dedicated the race to Kat, whose tiny baby bump is just starting to show.

Mile 85: Sammi's Rapha cap, cramps & climbs!
Sammi's black and pink Rapha cap reminded me of the title of one of the Rapha blogs: "Glory through Suffering." The last hilly section proved hardest for everyone. Lori was on the verge of bonking, Marla was suffering from really bad leg cramps, and Sammi was a little mad from being jostled over the rough washboard roads. My legs were screaming in pain from being left with no choice but to attack each hill in the saddle as I still could not clip in, and Missy, being the experienced leader that she is, kept spirits high. Those who had the legs gave longer, steady efforts in the wind, but everyone worked together till the end. When you take away the option to quit, it makes it easier to suffer because there is nothing to debate, you just go. That kind of raw riding is why I love cycling.

Mile 98: Get me off this bike!
I attribute our success to team work. We all became each other’s best inspiration, giving us courage to push on. How romantic...

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  1. Great looking kits and team! Congrats!

  2. Great essay, Allison! I feel like I was there - without so much suffering!

  3. Great report Allison! "When you take away the option to quit, it makes it easier to suffer because there is nothing to debate, you just go." - I like that!